An Erie pediatric office will soon offer fluoride treatments to their young patients.
Doctors at Children’s Community Pediatrics — Hamot Pediatrics, 300 State St., are expected to provide these treatments as early as January, said Michael Webster, M.D., a pediatrician with the practice and chairman of pediatrics for UPMC Hamot.
“Right now we are looking at suppliers for the (fluoride), so an exact date hasn’t been set,” Webster said.
These treatments, known as fluoride varnishes, traditionally have been given to patients at dental offices. They can help prevent cavities, especially in children, when they are applied to a child’s teeth.
But more pediatricians and family physicians nationwide have been offering the treatments since the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended in 2014 that primary care doctors offer them to children every three to six months beginning when the first teeth emerge.
“The idea is that access to dental care, especially for children under 3, is spotty,” Webster said. “The number of dental practices that accept Medical Assistance is small, and sometimes parents don’t have the wherewithal to get to these offices. By offering them at a primary care office, we can provide treatments during a well-child visit.”
Having pediatricians offer fluoride treatments is a “good thing,” said Vaishnavi Iyer, a dentist and director of patient care for the LECOM School of Dental Medicine.
“Not all parents take their children to the dentist,” Iyer said. “The pediatrician is often the first (health-care provider) to see the child’s teeth, and if they can provide fluoride treatments, that could be very beneficial.”
Most insurance carriers, including Medical Assistance, cover the treatments, Webster said. The fee for patients not covered by insurance will probably be around $20 per treatment.
The other Children’s Community Pediatrics offices in Erie will offer the fluoride treatments, but no starting date has been set, Webster said. UPMC Hamot primary care offices are looking into offering the treatments, a Hamot spokeswoman said.
Saint Vincent Medical Group is also considering offering the treatments at its primary care offices, a Saint Vincent spokeswoman said.
LECOM also offers fluoride treatments at its dental office, 2000 W. Grandview Blvd., where patients with Medical Assistance are accepted.